Thursday, July 17, 2008

On Track

Fewer than 500 feet behind my house runs the old Delaware and Hudson rail line now active with Norfolk Southern and Canadian Pacific freight trains. My dad's family home is only five houses away from where I sit, and I came to love watching and hearing the trains at a very early age while spending many summer days and nights with my beloved grandma. I was talking to a friend last night when the 10:45 train came through with its horns blaring as it approached the nearby crossing. She asked me if the trains wake me at night. No, they don't, but when the sun goes down and I hear a train approaching from a distance I always smile as the sounds take me back to a simpler, easier time when my greatest responsibility was to clean my plate at mealtime - a job that was never hard to do.

Riding to the tracks is a handy excuse to get out on the scooter when I want to go somewhere but nowhere in particular. It's kind of like fishing in that you don't know if you're going to catch something, but also in that it really doesn't matter if you do or not. Being by the rails where countless trains have run since even before my grandfather came to Pennsylvania from Europe always feels like coming home to me. Happening to be there when a train is coming through is a bonus.

There's majesty in a train - in the raw power of the groaning diesels as they make their way up the grade out back. In the smoke, and the dirt, and the grime, in the men themselves who put the behemoth engines through their paces day and night, rain or shine. And there's magic, too. The magic of childhood to which I cling as much as I can with all my might as my beard turns more gray by the day and I notice more wrinkles on the tops of my hands.

There's magic in being on a scooter at age 50 too. Sometimes I'm tempted to put a bicycle bell on it so I can jingle it and wave merrily to kids playing on the sidewalks as I scoot by. Then again, this is a different day and time and place, and if I did that my daughters would call me a "creeper." Sigh! So much has changed. But the trains - they stay the same, and there's a gentle comfort in that.

Overlooking the rail yard at Taylor, Pennsylvania


Paul said...

Dude! You are a freaking poet!

I too grew up near train tracks, and remember fondly the sound of the train whistle and the clatter of the engines and cars. Many a night they served to lull me to sleep. To this day, I have trouble sleeping when there isn't any noise.

Anonymous said...

A fantastic post! Wow am I glad I found your blog today.

I too love trains. We are about a mile and a half from the tracks that run through my town, but nothing is as calming to me as hearing that horn blast wafting through the night air as I slip off into sleep. Much like listening to the rain for me.

Another love of mine is riding a two your blog meshes nicely with my interests. I can tell this is a friendly place and will most definitely return.

Think I'll pop back over to my blog right now and add you to my blog list so I can return more easily.

Anonymous said...

I really like the photo of the passing train where we can see part of the dash and the rain on your windhield. A nice "feel" to that photograph.